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Thread: Colt Python - Variations in 3rd Generation Target Stocks / Grips

  1. #1
    Supporting Member Kanatak is on a distinguished road
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    Question Colt Python - Variations in 3rd Generation Target Stocks / Grips

    I have noticed some interesting differences among the 3rd generation target stocks / grips on my late 1970s to mid 1980s Pythons. Was wondering if this has been discussed and if you too have noticed the same thing.

    The stocks on the top Python in the first photo, and the left on subsequent photos, is from a 1981 Colt Custom Shop piece, and is what I call bulkier with a "round" profile. The stocks on the bottom Python in the first photo, and the right on subsequent photos, is from about 1986 and is thinner and has a "flatter" profile. If you compare and hold the two versions, they feel very different as one is quite a bit bulkier than the other.

    Another consistent difference is the thinner version seems to always have a more defined grain feature than its bulkier counterpart. I assume both stocks are American walnut. I do not know when, if ever, there was a transition to a thinner stock. I have several 1970s Pythons that are the thinner, and grainier version. I also have some 1970s pieces with the larger style stock. Colt may have had several contractors that provided these stocks under the general 3rd generation requirements.

    Does anyone know anything about these two styles? Are they both American Walnut? Is this simply the case of Colt receiving 3rd generation stocks from multiple contractors over a long period of time. Did Colt Custom Shop Pythons, and engraved pieces always have the larger version?






  2. #2
    Senior Member nightshade2x is an unknown quantity at this point

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    VERY interesting, I've never noticed this. The ones on my 1982 6" brushed stainless Python are like the ones on your 1986, very grainy with a "sharp" top shoulder.



    I'll have to compare them to my other Pythons with 3rd gen stocks. I have a 1980 and a 1978 blued I can compare with. I've really never put them together for a comparison.

    Here's the 1978 - biggest picture I have here. They look "softer" more rounded and not as grainy.

    Let me dig through the safe this weekend and see what I come up with.





    Have fun and be safe.
    Nightshade2x

  3. #3
    *** ColtForum MVP *** dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all

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    There are a number of variations of the Third Type Colt Target grip.
    It was made longer than the first two types, and over the years, these slight changes happened more or less as nothing more than methods of speeding up production and lowering cost.

    Size-wise, Target grips tended to shrink in size from the early First Type fully checkered grips to the late style Third Type.
    The early grips were fairly large, and possibly customer input caused the gradual shrinkage to a grip that fit the average hand better.
    Again, this was gradual over nearly 40 years, and doesn't seem to have been a formal decision with a sudden change in size.
    The driving force was cost.
    Making those fine well rounded oval grips cost more money than the flatter types.

    Both of the above grips are American walnut.
    In so far as i can determine, Colt used only American Walnut for the Third Type Target grip.
    This was not the case on the First Type and the Second Type.
    I've seen what I believe to be genuine factory First and Second Target grips made for guns other than the Python that were made of a hardwood, with Silver medallions.
    These were made of a fairly soft yellow-white hardwood with a stain. The First type were stained a very dark, almost blackish, brown color with an oil finish.
    The Second Type had a stain-finish coating that was a lighter, more natural walnut color.
    I've never seen a Third Type made of anything but American Walnut.

    As the years went on, Colt grips walnut quality fell with the use of cheaper wood, and the color lightened from a red-brown to in the last days a near blond color.
    A big difference was a larger and larger gap between the trigger guard and the grip.
    All this was to ease and speed production.

    Among the variations, is this very early Third Type.
    On this early version the "thumb rest" are on both sides, but the grip still has the "half moon" checkering border under the medallions.
    NOTE: This grip has been modified by an owner to clear a speed loader. The cut is not a factory feature:


    Here's the second variation. This version now has the checkering in a slanted straight line under the medallion, but note the definite rounded "corners" of the checkering pattern.


    In the 1980's the grip took on the less oval-shaped, smaller look, and quality began to fall.
    Color began to lighten and figure and quality of wood fell.
    The gap between the trigger guard opened up, and finally the grips had a simple cut on the front of the trigger guard area that left a wide gap.
    In the late 1980's, the color gradually changed to the almost blond color with almost no figure in the wood.
    At this time, Colt began to use a tan colored patching material to correct poor fit and gaps in the wood, and to patch small knots and defects on the outside.
    telluride likes this.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member Kanatak is on a distinguished road
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    Wow, great information dfariswheel!

    Thank you guys for the response. I guess we have one more nuance to think about, but either stock looks good on a Python. I need to pull out my 70s Pythons and do another comparison.

    Thanks again dfariswheel.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member Colt-SL is on a distinguished road
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    Like nightshade2x, mine is a '78 model and looks a lot like your top '81 Python, Kanatak. Interesting stuff guys!

    Tony

    “There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life..... or death. It shall be life.” - Ten Bears (Will Sampson) - “The Outlaw Josey Wales” 1976

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    Senior Member nightshade2x is an unknown quantity at this point

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    Looked over all (3) of my Pythons and all of them have the same style "thin" oval bottomed stocks.

    Have fun and be safe.
    Nightshade2x

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Kanatak is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
    Here's the second variation. This version now has the checkering in a slanted straight line under the medallion, but note the definite rounded "corners" of the checkering pattern.


    In the 1980's the grip took on the less oval-shaped, smaller look, and quality began to fall.
    Color began to lighten and figure and quality of wood fell.
    The gap between the trigger guard opened up, and finally the grips had a simple cut on the front of the trigger guard area that left a wide gap.
    In the late 1980's, the color gradually changed to the almost blond color with almost no figure in the wood.
    At this time, Colt began to use a tan colored patching material to correct poor fit and gaps in the wood, and to patch small knots and defects on the outside.
    dfariswheel and nightshade2x, I checked my 1977 Pythons and they have the oval or large style 3rd generation stocks. I now see clearly your description of the gap between the trigger guard and the front of the stocks. Here are a couple of photos and it appears there is no gap. Would you agree? By the way, I found a few of my 1980s had rather large gaps and the straight (poor craftsmanship) cut you describe. Photo of this later.





    My Pythons from 1980 through 1981 have the smaller, thinner stocks with the sharp angle in the checker pattern. Perhaps my 1981 Custom Shop Python got the larger grips, just because Colt had some at the time.

    Interesting stuff, thanks for your feedback.

  8. #8
    *** ColtForum MVP *** dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all

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    Those grips have no gap, which is how the older grips were.

    The grips with a gap are very obvious. This looked like they sawed the front of the grip off just where it contacts the trigger guard, leaving a gap between the trigger guard and the grip.

    This started out as simply a bad fit between the grip and trigger guard, and eventually wound up a deliberate gap caused by cutting the grip.

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Kanatak is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post

    The grips with a gap are very obvious. This looked like they sawed the front of the grip off just where it contacts the trigger guard, leaving a gap between the trigger guard and the grip.

    This started out as simply a bad fit between the grip and trigger guard, and eventually wound up a deliberate gap caused by cutting the grip.

    Exactly what mine looks like. I will post a photo tomorrow. When I first saw it, I guessed it was a problem with the original fitting.

    Thanks for the information.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member Kanatak is on a distinguished road
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    Proof!

    dfariswheel discusses the deterioration in general quality of Python stocks during the late 1970s, noting "The gap between the trigger guard opened up, and finally the grips had a simple cut on the front of the trigger guard area that left a wide gap".

    So, I retrieved a 1978 Python which was purchased new by me and to this day has not been cleaned of its factory grease. In other words, no one, including me did the sawing on this stock. Here is the gap he talks about:



    Here is the saw cut which enabled the assembler to fit these stocks. Notice how uneven the two cuts are. The white coloration is dried grease:



    Further, dfariswheel explained, "Size-wise, Target grips tended to shrink in size from the early First Type fully checkered grips to the late style Third Type. The early grips were fairly large, and possibly customer input caused the gradual shrinkage to a grip that fit the average hand better. Again, this was gradual over nearly 40 years, and doesn't seem to have been a formal decision with a sudden change in size. The driving force was cost. Making those fine well rounded oval grips cost more money than the flatter types".

    Here is the butt end of the 1978 Python. Notice it has the thin, squared-off profile:



    So, thank you guys for participating in this discussion. Proof once again that if you have a Colt question, no matter how obscure, you can likely find the answer here.


 

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